More women in New Zealand have swapped desks and offices for milking sheds and quad bikes. This is according to the latest data from Federated Farmers. 

It says dairy farming is bucking the trend of a reduction of women in agriculture. Speaking to Fairfax NZ News, Federated Farmers’ Russell MacPherson said he believes there has been a steady increase in the number of women working on farms in Southland.

He suggested a reason for census numbers falling was that some women undervalued the work they put into the farms when raising children and had not ticked the agricultural occupation box.

Some women were also entering dairying alone, something the industry was welcoming, he said.

“People’s attitudes towards women running farms is totally different to what it was 30 years ago.”

Fairfax NZ News also spoke to Professor Jacqueline Rowarth. She said NZ women were still choosing to study the science behind one of NZ’s biggest industries, with most agri-business and agri-science degree classes made up of about 68 per cent females. Rural Woman NZ’s Margaret Pittaway also said a lot of women provided crucial support in the administration and financial side of dairying, which was still seen predominantly as a male occupation.